Yeah, so I just randomly started watching D&D youtube videos and channels and had a blast. There is sooo much great stuff out there for players and DM’s alike to enjoy. These videos bring so much of the hobby into our lives I can’t suggest enough of them. In fact, it’s a challenge not to fall into the rabbit hole of consuming vs. creating.
Having said that, you have to watch Stephen Colbert play D&D again with Matthew Mercer (DM extraordinaire) after a 30 YEAR HIATUS. He seriously has so much fun. Honestly, I think he forgets that he’s a famous entertainer and just becomes this child playing D&D again. It’s so pure and hilarious and fun to watch.
Finally, after watching a video about being a better DM, here’s this golden nugget of wisdom from none other than the godfather of the D20, Gary Gygax himself.
“A DM only rolls dice because he likes the noise they make.” Gary Gygax
Which is to say, follow Rod’s Rule #2 when DM’ing. “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” The dice aren’t the characters in the story! Sure, use them to generate the randomness and great fun required but not to guide everything that happens. Players don’t want to know they died because you rolled five natural 20’s in a row. They’d be pissed at you forever BUT if their character’s died because they struggled mightily, but it wasn’t quite enough to win the day, that, my friend, is a story THEY will remember.
And that’s what you want, to create a story compelling enough that your players will remember it and tell others about it. Screw the dice rolls if they come up contrary to that noble goal. This is why you have a DM’s screen, after all. Now I’m not saying fudge the rolls all the time. The player’s enjoyment of the game will be diminished if there’s no sense of danger and chance, I’m just saying don’t let chance dictate every outcome of the game!
Listen, I’m not perfect, I get the difficulty of encounters screwed up all the time. It’s hard to get a good, challenging balance in an encounter, let alone a series of encounters. Dial it up or down as you deem fit. But killing everyone because you misjudged how powerful an encounter is, not cool. Futz it, if that happens.
Now if characters do rash and silly things, well, that’s different. Chance can definitely kill them when they push the envelope of survivability.
Didn’t rest up when you had the chance and pushed onto the next dungeon? Not my problem. Killed townsfolk in plain sight of the town guards? There’s a price to pay for rudeness and it may be character death. The dice shouldn’t be the only factor in determining a character’s fate.
I’m just saying I prefer enjoyable play over the destiny of the dice roll. But don’t tell my players that, I gotta keep them guessing.